The Australian community has been faced with some tough challenges over the last few years – from bushfires, floods and cyclones to other man-made disasters and significant homegrown tragedies.

The forecast is that extreme weather will become the new normal, making these and other types of disasters far more prevalent. Sadly, it will become a matter of when, not if.

As a result, Australian communities are going to require greater levels of support from business leaders and partners – far beyond the existing government and relief agency support currently available.

Craig Furgate, a former head of FEMA in the US, recently pointed out that our emergency services and government cannot do all that is needed before, during and after an incident on their own – they will need to reach out to businesses and other philanthropic foundations for partner support.

By acknowledging that the existing capabilities across government and relief agencies is already stretched, the reality is that disaster prevention, response and recovery is a joint responsibility involving everyone within all communities.

So what does that mean for businesses? What are their roles when it comes to the before, during and after stages of disasters and acute shocks?

While they may not naturally see how important their role is, Australian businesses have the capacity and capability to support Australian communities during all stages. Businesses of all shapes and sizes have a real opportunity to step up, raise their hands and prepare the community to build resilience, leadership and capacity to not only survive but thrive when their time of disaster-impact comes.

During times of disaster, while businesses do play a role in relief and recovery efforts, all too often the support is either not quick enough, not allocated to the appropriate area, or they miss the mark on their business goals. Without a plan, it almost feels like ‘support for support’s sake’.

So why should businesses have a community disaster support plan (CDSP)?

In the aftermath of a disaster, often the biggest challenge is understanding the needs of those affected and finding the best ways to assist quickly.

How could your organisation know the best way to support an impacted community if you don’t know what they need or what you can actually offer them? Being prepared to support is the best support you can offer a disaster-stricken community because a) you know what they need b) how you can support the community and c) know your capacity and capability to act with purpose.

As corporate citizens, businesses are the heart of many Australian communities and their ability to be ready and connected before the impact of disaster means less economic and social recovery after the event.

A CDSP should be considered a strategised business plan, one that coordinates, targets and effectively executes your support mission so you’re not only helping a community, it’s also helping you too. After all, doing good is good for business.


Renae Hanvin brings to businesses (of all shapes and sizes) a unique understanding of connecting corporate goodwill to disaster-impacted community needs. With a personal commitment to educate, connect and motivate businesses to support the communities in which they operate, Renae proudly leads a national team of best practice emergency sector and community relations specialists.

To become a business leader in community disaster support visit

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